Michel Platini, the president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), is the latest top soccer official to be drawn into the Swiss authorities’ investigation of the sport’s world governing body FIFA.
Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter is accused of making a $2 million payment to Platini in 2011, only two months before Blatter ran for re-election for the organization’s top job, the BBC reports. Blatter is currently being investigated over alleged corruption.
Platini, a former star of the French national team, is currently campaigning to replace Blatter as FIFA president and has vehemently denied that the payment was illicit. He says it was compensation for his time as a special adviser to FIFA between 1998 and 2002, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
“At the time, FIFA informed me that they would not be able to pay me the total agreed amount,” Platini told AFP, explaining why he received the payment almost a decade later.
The 60-year-old said he was questioned as a witness last week and has willingly cooperated with the investigation.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber framed Platini’s involvement slightly differently, however. “We investigated against him in between as a witness and an accused person,” Lauber told reporters, adding that he would be willing to raid Platini’s UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, if necessary.
“I will do anything, if I can do something, to clear up what’s the real truth. And if I have enough elements to go there, I could not exclude that I also have to go there,” Lauber said.
Meanwhile, controversial Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona has weighed in on the FIFA scandal, labeling Blatter “corrupt” and Platini “a liar,” reports Chinese state news wire Xinhua.
Platini assured reporters that he is “calm and totally serene” in his quest for the top FIFA spot despite the ongoing investigation.
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